CALGARY — It remains Jaromir Jagr’s decision, but his new teammates think the 45-year-old forward could be ready to debut when the Calgary Flames host the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; SN1, CITY, NHL.TV).
Jagr has practiced with the Flames twice since signing a one-year, $1 million contract on Wednesday.
“He’s close, for sure,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “He’s known as a guy who always keeps himself in great shape. I think when you have a guy that’s played as many games as he has you rely on how he feels. But he looks good. He’s made some quick plays.
“He’s definitely at NHL game speed right now. It’s just a matter of when he feels ready.”
Jagr, who did not speak to the media Friday, said his first skate Thursday was not very good, but he left an impression on goaltender Mike Smith in their first on-ice action together Friday.
“He lit me up there pretty good in the first few minutes,” said Smith, who did not skate Thursday. “I was like, ‘Man, this guy’s still got it.’ He’s such a good player at his age. It’s impressive to watch how he prepares for practice, even, and gets himself going. He’s excited to be here, I know that just talking to him briefly, and we’re happy to have him. It’ll be nice to see him in the lineup.”
It’s up to Jagr if that will happen Saturday. His next game will be his 1,712th in the NHL.
“You’d have to ask him, but I think he looks pretty good,” center Matt Stajan said. “I think he looks pretty good. You only know yourself. He’s played longer than any of us, so he knows his body. I’m sure the decision will be his.”
The group would be a line should Jagr declare himself ready to go.
“I think it can be really promising,” Bennett said Thursday. “I mean, they’re both very skilled guys, and I think if I can use my speed as they’re making plays down low, it can work out really well. I’m excited to get more reps with him and more practices and hopefully a game soon.
“He’s a legend, and just having him be out there and giving me pointers, giving me advice, means a ton coming from a guy like that. He’s been around forever. He’s got more experience than anyone. Definitely I’ll be picking his brain as much as I can.”
Versteeg said he thinks they will do just fine together.
“I think the best players always play their game,” he said. “They find chemistry. You don’t want to always defer to someone, but you want to make their strengths and whatever they’re good at come out, and you want to make your strengths and whatever you’re good at really come to the forefront as well.
“I think it’s about finding that fine line of using each other and deferring to each other all the time. He’s obviously a presence and you can tell the way he is with the puck, and he wants the puck and that’s great.
“I’m excited to try to get it going with him.”
Jagr is third with 765 NHL goals behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801), and is second in points with 1,914 behind Gretzky (2,857). Jagr also trails Howe (1,767) by 56 games for most on the League’s all-time list.